Saturday, December 7, 2013

Eleven Months

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to use this blog post as an opportunity to list a bunch of the things I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for Huyen. Besides being an amazing wife and mother (and sugar momma), she's an incredible daughter-in-law to my parents and granddaughter to my Nanny. Every day I count my lucky stars for meeting someone so intelligent, kind, nurturing and supportive. Knowing that Shayna has 50% of Huyen's genes is a more than comforting feeling.

I'm thankful for Shayna. Since the day she was born, our lives have changed for the better.   Don't get me wrong, I loved life before being a parent. However, since she entered our life I can feel my heart beating differently. Every smile she gives us, every time she learns something new, every mumbled word, every time she falls asleep in my arms is a perfect moment.

I'm thankful for my family. At Thanksgiving my mom cooked a feast for thirty family members. This is the norm for all the major holidays. Although the meals are usually chaotic with kids running around screaming and people talking/arguing politics, it's nice to know that my family always enjoys coming together. My parents are incredibly supportive of everything we do. And my brother and sister-in-law and cousins have given us so much stuff for Shayna (clothing, toys, etc.) that we've gotten to the point where we need to store things at my parents' house. A couple of weeks ago I went to my Uncle Barry and Aunt Donna's house and filled my car up with wood for our fireplace that my uncle chopped. I then went on a hike with my uncle and cousin Dana (after beating both of them in pool!). It's little things like that that remind me how special family is.

I'm thankful for my Vietnamese family. I truly miss my in-laws every day. Yesterday I was gushing about how amazing it was to have my mother-in-law staying in our small apartment for two months and how I wanted her to stay longer. I'm pretty sure nobody else I know would ever say that about their mother-in-law. Huyen's family have treated me as one of their own from Day 1...okay, maybe Day 1,001. We're going back to Vietnam for a couple weeks next May and I'm counting down the days until I'm sleeping at my in-laws on a wood-plank bed.

I'm thankful for my friends from home, my friends from college, my friends from LA and my friends from Vietnam. I can honestly say that I have friends all around the world. One of the sad truths in life is that as you get older and have a family, you start seeing your friends less and less. However, that doesn't mean your friendship means less. In fact, when you find the time to see one another, you're always reminded how truly special friendship is.

I'm posting this a day late which means we're one day closer to Shayna's first birthday. I find myself asking the same question every month, how is it possible time has gone by so quickly?!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Double Digits!

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Before having a kid, I must have heard a hundred times that babies usually say "Da-da" before they say "Ma-ma." Well, nobody told Shayna that. This kid says, "Ma-ma" about a thousand times a day. When I walk her to school: "Ma-ma." When I pick her up from school: "Ma-ma." When I feed her: "Ma-ma." When I change her diaper: "Ma-ma." When I bring her to the park: "Ma-ma." Yeah, you get the picture.

About a month ago one of Shayna's teachers told me that she says "Da-da" whenever I come to pick her up and stand behind the soundproof windows. I was skeptical of this and thought that she was probably saying, "Ba-ba" which is her second favorite thing to mumble. For the record, "ba" is grandma in Vietnamese.

Yesterday I had a parent teacher conference with Shayna's head teacher and she also told me she says, "Da-da" all the time. I asked her if she was sure or if it was perhaps "ba-ba". She looked at me and said, "Uh, yeah, I think it's ba-ba."

All that said, Shayna did say "Da-da" one time. It happened a few weeks ago in Central Park. I had Shayna in the baby carrier and we sat together on a tire swing. As we started to swing she looked at me and, clear as day, said, "Da-da." IT WAS AWESOME! Even more awesome is that we got picture of the exact moment. And yes, those pictures are included in the montage.

Some firsts this month:
1. Shayna is standing while holding onto stuff. This also means she's falling when not holding onto stuff well enough.
2. Shayna has officially claimed the refrigerator as her own. You can open the fridge for a second without her crawling 6MPH toward it.
3. Shayna has started to only like non-baby food. She's not into the pureed stuff anymore. She wants texture and things she can hold. Her Asian side is coming out because she apparently loves rice.
4. Shayna celebrated her first Halloween. Unfortunately she was sick on the actual holiday and missed her day care's parade. We took her out at night for about fifteen minutes (just so Huyen and I could get some candy) and then dressed her up again a few days later so we could get more pictures.

It's unreal that Shayna is already ten months old. Unreal. Can someone please tell me how to slow down time! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

9 Months!

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It's mind boggling that Shayna has now been out in the world as long as she was in Huyen's belly.  I haven't been able to get that out of my mind for weeks.

This blog is a day late, but I have an excuse. I was away last week in Los Angeles for work (yes, sometimes I work) and didn't get home until Saturday night. And yesterday I wasn't about to sit down and blog after not having played with my daughter for almost a week. This trip was the first time I was away from Shayna. The hardest thing about leaving your kid is not being able to explain to them what's going on. We're not really by-the-minute routine parents but inevitably we still have our own routines. For example, I take Shayna to Day Care every morning and pick her up in the afternoon. After I get her we go to the park and play before coming home.  A couple of weeks ago I had a conference call in the evening so Huyen picked up Shayna at school. I wouldn't say Shayna was upset that Huyen was there but she was definitely a little confused and kept looking around for me. I had this in the back of my head the whole time I prepared to go to LA.

Let me just say that I'm 100% confident in Huyen taking care of Shayna by herself. Honestly, Huyen can do everything and anything. She's amazing. However, I was just sad that I couldn't chip in and do the things I always do. Shayna was totally fine, albeit a little confused where I was. Unfortunately we only have one computer so I wasn't even able to Skype with my girls but I did talk to them on the phone a ton and get about 1,000 videos on my phone from Huyen.

Being away from your family is hard. When connecting at the Nashville airport (I had credit to use on Southwest and that was the best connection) I saw a mom and her kid playing on a kid's playground in the middle of the terminal. It made me really sad. And every chance I could get in LA I somehow brought a story around to Huyen and Shayna. I guess you could say I'm just really proud of my girls. 

Anyway, it's great to be home!!!

Some firsts this past month:
1. Shayna crawled backwards...
2. ...then crawled forwards.
3. Shayna is saying "mom mom" a ton. Her teacher says that she says "dad dad" too but I don't believe her.
4. Shayna was named one of the "artists of the month" at her day care. There's a picture of a her artwork in the video montage.
5. Shayna outgrew a ton of clothing and is now wearing 18 month pajamas to sleep in.  How that's possible, I don't know.
6. Shayna's two teeth are really protruding and she bit my finger really hard. She's got a third tooth coming in on the top which should make for more biting fun. Luckily I don't have to breast feed.
7. Shayna can hold on to things and pull herself up. We had to lower her crib last night.
8. Shayna started to wear her hair in lots of different styles. Her teacher at school is amazing at doing her hair. I told the lady that I'm gonna open a salon for her to style kids hair.

On to double digits!!! Ten months here we come...

Friday, September 6, 2013

8 Months!

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One of my favorite things about being a dad is walking around Jersey City with Shayna in the baby carrier.  Having a cute baby knocks down shyness barriers and allows total strangers to come up to you and tell you how cute your kid is -- something a proud parents never gets tired of hearing. I've met so many people over the last couple of months from taking Shayna to the park and walking her to day care. In fact, a couple of days ago I was walking down the street on my way to get Shayna and the owner of a local grocery store said to me, "Hey no baby today?"

Last week I was walking down a street and I heard some smokery-voice call out, "That is precious." Some lady and her friend were sitting on a stoop and basically cat-calling Shayna and me. At the park, a few mothers have come up to me and said how cute Shayna is. Naturally you have to say, "Your baby is so cute too."

This isn't new information but having a baby really brings out the smiles. It's like having a dog, except you don't piss anyone off when it takes a dump on the sidewalk (well in Vietnam babies sometimes do poop/pee on the sidewalk). Anyway, I've become almost expectant of passing people to smile at me and Shayna. Which makes what happened yesterday extra weird: Shayna and I were going to the local supermarket to pick up some tomatoes for dinner. When we were about a block away a middle-aged, well dressed black man was walking to us. The man smiled at me and I smiled back, ready for him to give a compliment. Instead his eyes got all buggy and he looked right at me and said, "Jesus died for you."  I wasn't sure what to say back:
a) Just for me? What did I do?
b) That's a bummer but do you think my baby is cute, Mr. Crazy Pants.
c) L'Shana Tova.

In other news, here's some of Shayna's monthly highlights:
1. She got two teeth! Her sharp little teeth can really bite...just ask her mom.
2. Shayna is racking up the airline miles. We flew to Colorado for Ryan and Jessica's wedding (where I was the officiant!). We actually had an emergency landing on the way in Ohio because apparently our plane was on fire. Shayna didn't panic at all.
                                (PICTURE: Jessica, Ryan and Shayna in Golden, Colorado.)
3. Shayna finished her first day care and started at her new one. At her old one she was one of the few girls and was about the middle of the pack in age. Now her class is mostly girls and she's one of the oldest.
4. Shayna can sit on her own. However if you sit behind her she'll lean on you like a barcalounger.
5. Shayna broke my nose two times. Seriously I heard it crack...twice! I was reading to her on the bed and she head butted me. She seemed 100% fine while I was in pain for hours.
6. Shayna can sort of crawl backwards in a circle. We're thinking of attaching a swiffer to her since she's dragging herself all over the floor.
7. Shayna went to her first national park -- The Garden of The Gods in Colorado.
8. Shayna has started to learn how to flirt. She was all over the flight attendant on our plane and the guy sharing our row. It was awkward.
9. Huyen bought Shayna a potty-training toilet. So far Shayna still prefers her diapers.
10. Shayna got pink eye. She still looked cute though.

I can't believe my baby is 8 months old!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

7 Months!

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Nobody is more disappointed in me than me for not putting together a six month video. But I have legit excuses. First, I was knocked on my butt for two weeks with Coxsackie virus. Yeah, that's a real thing that some clearly immature doctor first named. The day after I finally started to feel better, Shayna, Huyen and I went on vacation to Nantucket. Yeah, that's how we roll. By the time we got back it was already halfway to month number seven so I made the executive decision to combine the last two months.

I can't believe that Shayna is seven months old.  It's insane that's she's more than halfway to being one! It feels like just the other day we were coming home from the hospital with her (I know I'll be saying this the rest of my life). So many firsts happened during the last two months. Let me list them:

1.  Shayna started on food...and she LOVED it. So far she's eaten sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, summer squash, zucchini, apple, pear, green beans, chicken, fish, pork, kale, broccoli, mango, grapes, bananas, strawberries, melon...and basically any other fruit or vegetable we have in the house. The kid's an August -- she likes to eat.

2. Shayna went on a swing for the first time....and LOVED it. As you'll see in the video montage, she goes on swings all the time now. We literally took about 800 pictures of her swinging. Almost every day after school I take her to the park and watch as she lights up as soon as she sees the swing set.

3. Shayna had her first plane ride...and she LOVED it. Okay, I don't know if she loved it but she didn't cry at all. My friend Taylor had given us a tip to breastfeed Shayna during take-off and landing. It worked. I should also mention we were on a tiny plane and sitting right by the engine. Despite the noise, Shayna was all smiles the whole time. We even got a nice compliment from a fellow passenger for how behaved she was.

4. Shayna went to the beach...and LOVED it. When we arrived at the beach it was pretty windy and I was a little nervous Shayna wasn't gonna be happy. This feeling doubled when she took one of her biggest poops ever as soon as we set up camp. However, a few minutes later she was all smiles as she dipped her feet into the water. She also loved digging her feet into the sand. As you'll see in the video, Shayna spent a lot of time at the beach and really enjoyed it.

5. Shayna took her first boat ride...and LOVED it. Okay, technically it was her third boat ride since Huyen and I took a boat to Block Island while Huyen was pregnant. Also, technically Shayna slept on the boat about 90% of the time. Still I'm chalking it up as a victory since she didn't cry the whole time.

6. Shayna had two days of constipation...which she DID NOT LOVE.

7. Shayna started teething...which she definitely DOES NOT LOVE. 

8. Huyen got bronchitis...which Shayna DOES NOT LOVE. Because of Huyen's medication, she can't breastfeed for ten days. Shayna has adjusted to this better than Huyen who definitely misses breastfeeding her. That said, Shayna's eyes go wide whenever Huyen holds her to her chest. Yeah, mommy's a tease.  I can't tell you how proud I am of Huyen though for not only breastfeeding but pumping like a champ. She pumps at work and comes home every week with a huge bag of frozen milk. Our freezer is literally filled to the brim with milk...which is a good thing since Shayna's now chugging her way through it during this ten day breastfeeding break.

9. Shayna can hold her own bottle...sort of. Shayna loves to take her bottle while feeding her. She usually holds it to her mouth for about five seconds and then pushes the nipple into her forehead.

10. Shayna sits in a high chair during dinner. Our dinners are starting to feel like a family event. My brother Zev and sister-in-law Kathy hooked us up with their high-chair which we've now been feeding Shayna in. While Huyen and I eat dinner Shayna sits between us sucking on frozen fruit in her teething net. It's really nice sitting at the table together.

The only real negative from the last two months (outside of someone always being sick) was that going on vacation destroyed the already loose schedule we keep. The biggest issue was that Shayna stopped sleeping through the night. After two months of ten-plus hours straight sleeping, Shayna began to wake up around three times every night. We've been spoiled by her sleep habits so we were due for a few tough nights. Thankfully, as of typing this, Shayna has slept through the night for three straight nights.

I promise to be better the rest of the year! No more missed months.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chau Yeu Ba!

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For a couple of years while living in Vietnam, Huyen's mother and aunt always teamed up to give me a hard time about moving to America with Huyen. The conversation went like this:

Huyen's Mother and Aunt: Don't move to America.
Me: I'm sorry but we're gonna go. I promise we'll visit as much as possible.
Huyen's Mother and Aunt: You found Huyen in Vietnam so you should stay in Vietnam.
Me: Okay, that's a fair point. But I think America has more opportunities when we have children. Plus, did I mention we'll come visit as much as possible? Also, you can come visit us in America.

This last line was directed at Huyen's mother and always got a giant laugh in response. To her, the idea was so far fetched it truly sounded like a joke. If you remember, this is the same woman who had never seen the ocean until we took her to the beach! Vietnam is a skinny country, lined by water on the east, and my mother-in-law had never gone to the beach! The beach is less than hundred miles from where she lives. Compare that to New Jersey which is ten thousand miles away. Yeah, the idea of visiting America was laughable. Was.

There's all types of bravery. My mother-in-law coming to America, truly is a special kind of brave. Despite not speaking a word of English and barely having traveled in her own country, she boarded a Korean Airlines flight two months ago and came to America. To say she was taking a dream vacation would be wrong. She never could have dreamed about coming to America.

The two months that my mother-in-law were here were amazing. It's hard to imagine a home being filled with more joy than having a newborn in it. Yet somehow, our level of happiness was raised each and every day by Huyen's mom.  For Huyen, it was so special to be able to show her mother what her life is like in America. You could see the pride in Dung's eyes all the time. On one of her last days Huyen drove her around my parents' neighborhood. Dung got a little emotional and told Huyen that she was the first woman in their family to be able to drive a car. Luckily she didn't know that Huyen started the car with her foot on the accelerator and "turned off" the car while it was still in drive.  For Shayna, it was two months of being doted over. If you think that you can't spoil a baby enough...you haven't met Dung. Shayna's eyes went wide every time she saw her grandma. The other night we skyped with my mother-in-law and Shayna stared at the computer wondering when she was going to be wrapped up in a blanket. For me, the joy came in watching my wife and daughter spend time with Dung. I kept telling Huyen that her and her mother were like two high school girls when they get together. They were always giggling together and sharing stories. I know half the time they were making fun of me but I didn't care. I found myself always smiling, watching how happy they were together. And as a parent, nothing feels better than knowing your child is loved.  And my mother-in-law LOVES Shayna. As Dung told us many times, she wasn't going to miss me or Huyen, she was only going to miss Shayna.

Huyen and I know that Shayna will probably never remember spending this time with her grandma. Whenever I think about that it makes me sad. Really sad. However, Huyen, Dung and I will always remember it and we'll tell Shayna stories. For the past two months I've kept a journal and can't wait to share it with Shayna one day. Until then, I printed a handful of 8x10 photos of my mother-in-law and Shayna which we'll be putting up around the apartment.

Huyen, Shayna and I live in a one bedroom apartment. Before my mother-in-law came I worried that our apartment would feel very crowded. However, I can honestly say that it never did. Since she left though, it's definitely felt very empty.

We all miss my mother-in-law but are also so thankful that she was able to come here and be part of our lives. And the best thing is, we're already talking about when she'll come again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sleep Training


Our doctor encourages parents to sleep train their children around three-months of age. For those of you not familiar with sleep training, it's when you basically lock your kid in their room at night and let them cry it out when they wake up at three in the morning (while you lay in bed feeling like the worst parent in the world and begging the gods of sleep to quickly descend upon your baby's crib). The basic instructions of sleep training are this:
Step 1: Have a nightly routine with your child. i.e. Give them a bath at 7PM, read them a book at 7:30PM, sing them a song at 7:45PM and then put them into bed.
Step 2: Once in bed, leave the room.
Step 3: Don't return to the room until the morning.

We were told that it takes three nights to sleep train your child and to expect them to wake up twice and to cry for about twenty to thirty minutes. We've been pushing off sleep training because it goes against every fiber in my mother-in-law's body. To her, the second a baby cries is a half second after you should have been shoving a nipple/bottle in the baby's mouth. Since my mother-in-law arrived we've talked a great deal about sleep training. When she came with me to the doctor's office I asked our doctor if it would be okay to wait until my mother-in-law left. She said that it would definitely be to late since Shayna would be six and a half months by then (NOTE: I've surveyed a few friends who don't use our doctor and they sleep trained their kids around six months so I'm sure it would have been fine).

To me it doesn't make sense not to sleep train your kid as soon as possible. It's never gonna be easy to let them cry for an extended period of time so why not just get it over with? About a week ago my mother-in-law said to Huyen that we should try to sleep train Shayna. I thought Huyen must have been mistranslating but she assured me she still understands Vietnamese.

This past Wednesday we agreed to give it a try. I emailed our downstairs neighbor and gave them a head's up and offered them a box of earplugs. They declined the earplugs and wished us luck. Believe me, I knew we were gonna need it!  That night we tucked in Shayna at 8PM and had a quick conversation if we should sleep in our bed or in the living room. You see, we only have a one bedroom so we share a room with Shayna. We decided we would stay in the same room but just remain silent when Shayna woke up. Sure enough, seven hours later Shayna woke up at 3AM.  I'm a light sleeper and heard her first little movements. After a couple minutes her whimpers started to build into cries. When they got a little louder, Huyen woke up and I whispered to her that Shayna had been awake for about ten minutes. Right around this time I heard some rustling from the living room and thought to myself that trouble was brewing. A minute later Huyen's mom started to call out from the living room, "Huyen, Shayna's crying." We tried to ignore her -- hoping that she would remember we were sleep training -- but that didn't exactly work. Moments later there was a knock on our door: "Huyen, Shayna's crying." And so much for night one of sleep training. I got out of bed, picked Shayna up and brought her to Huyen for a late night snack. The next morning my mother-in-law said that Huyen hadn't reminded her that we were sleep training that night.

On Thursday, we decided to try it again with a few changes. We put Shayna in bed at 8PM and then ourselves in bed at 10PM. However we decided to sleep in the living room. We put my mother-in-law on the couch and we slept on her Japanese-style floor futon. At about 10:05 I realized that Shayna's crying was nothing compared to my mother-in-law's snoring! For such a tiny, fit woman she sure can make a lot of sounds in her sleep. After finally falling asleep I woke up at around 2:30AM to Shayna's whimpers. Soon Huyen and my mother-in-law were up too and we all laid there as Shayna cried for about twenty minutes. There were a few times it seemed like she was done crying and then after a few silent moments she would cry again with vengeance. At one point she was silent for about fifteen seconds and then let out a series of powerful sneezes. Following that she let out one more cry and then fell asleep until 6:30 in the morning...when my mother-in-law went into the room and took her out of bed!  Despite feeling like a horrible parent, it was a successful night. Shayna slept 10 hours!

On Friday we followed the same routine...including my mother-in-law's snoring. I woke up at 4AM and whispered to Huyen, "Have you heard anything?" She said she hadn't...or at least that's what I think she mumbled. Although it could have been, "Why are you waking me up at 4AM when my daughter is sleeping?"  Well, Shayna ended up sleeping straight through the night until 6:30AM. I can't tell you how proud we were of her. I mean, she's half Asian so she's obviously pretty smart. It only took her a night of sleep training to learn to sleep through the night...

...or at least that's what we thought. On Saturday night we followed the same routine. However this time Shayna woke up at 3:30 and cried for about thirty minutes. Her cries were much louder this time and sounded like she was saying, "Me! Me!" ("Mom! Mom!" in Vietnamese). After about fifteen minutes my mother-in-law started saying, "You should go pick her up." However, we hung strong and after her last cry she slept until 6:45 in the morning.

Last night we slept in the living room again. Our schedule was off a little and we ended up putting Shayna down around 8:45PM. We thought for sure she would wake up during the night because she had taken a very long nap during the day. However, she proved us wrong -- she woke up at 6:45AM!

So let's call it official -- today, on Shayna's four month birthday, she can sleep through the night!!!

Yeah, I know by typing this we're totally screwed.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Welcome Ba!

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After a tough end to Shayna's second month, the third month brought nothing but smiles. Sixteen days ago Shayna's ba (grandma in Vietnamese) arrived from Vietnam. The two of them bonded immediately even though her ba kept insisting she was cold, even though she wasn't. For the first week or so we had to battle with my mother-in-law to stop covering Shayna with blankets and unnecessary outfits. My mother-in-law felt cold and assured us that Shayna must be cold too. Every time we turned our back, Shayna would have another layer on. My Vietnamese sucks but there's a few words I can easily recognize such as "lanh" and "ret." Both mean cold. My mother-in-law basically said these words a minimum of ten times a minute. It got so ridiculous that I changed the lyrics to Old McDonald to this:

Old McShayna had a farm,
Ee i ee i oh!
And on her farm she had a ba,
Ee i ee i oh!
With a "ret" "ret" here,
And a "ret" "ret" there,
Here a "ret", there a "ret", 
Everywhere a "ret" "ret". 
Old McShayna had a farm,
Ee i ee i oh!

It's become an instant hit in the house.

Huyen's maternity leave ended last week so it's been just me and my mother-in-law at home during most of the day. Despite some culture clashes, it's been amazing having Huyen's mom here. She's really wonderful with Shayna and has embraced the way we want to raise her. Here's a few things that Huyen's mom isn't used to but has quickly adjusted to:
1. Babies shouldn't leave the house for the first six months.
2. Babies should spend all their time on their back. There is no tummy time in Vietnam.
3. Babies shouldn't use a pacifier or suck their thumb.
4. Babies should spend ALL of their time eating and sleeping. 
5. Babies should be attended to the very second they cry.*
6. Babies should be held until they're fast asleep.
7. Babies shouldn't be comforted by their fathers. That's a mothers job.

*I don't like when Shayna cries but sometimes you need to give her a minute to let out a ten second cry and fall back asleep. For the first few days my mother-in-law would sprint into the bedroom and start clapping and singing right in Shayna's face to get her to stop crying. The problem is that Shayna usually would nap for an hour more after she has her ten second cry. Soon instead of taking three long naps during the day, Shayna was taking five short naps.

The next couple months are gonna be really interesting for all of us in our one bedroom apartment. I've started to call my life's sitcom: "Two and a Half Vietnamese Women."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Shayna's Second Month

People will tell you that being a parent gets better each and every day. Well, that's mostly true except when your kid gets sick. Last Friday Shayna got her first cold. On Monday morning it had taken a bad turn and we went to see our pediatrician first thing in the morning. It turns out that she had RSV which led to bronchiolitis. Shayna was having a pretty hard time breathing but she was still eating. The doctor told us that we could either go to the hospital or keep monitoring her from home. We decided to do the later. However, by the next morning Shayna didn't want to eat and had thrown up twice. We went back to see our pediatrician and she suggested that we play it safe and go to the hospital.

We had been prepared to go to the hospital and had our bags packed. After the doctor's visit we jumped in the car and drove to Hackensack Hospital which supposedly is one of the best pediatric facilities in the country. After a few hours of observation and some unsuccessful nebulizer treatments, the doctor tried a much stronger medicine. Immediately Shayna responded and started to breath better. Soon enough she was eating and crying again (she had been so lethargic she couldn't cry). Her crying-screams really sounded like Mozart at that point. After a few more hours the doctor told us we could go home. Honestly, there's nothing better than hearing your  child doesn't have to sleep overnight in the hospital.

It's been a few days since the hospital and Shayna has definitely rebounded well. She's still a little sick but she's getting better and better every day.  The point is, just when you start to think you've got this parenting thing figured out...you realize you don't have a clue. It's beyond words how much it sucks to see your child in pain...and equally how great it is to see them recover.

Besides that though, Month #2 was fantastic. Here's some highlights...

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Shayna Phuong

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On Saturday January 5th, Huyen and I had our friends Heidi, Seth and Sal over for dinner. The three of them left around 10PM and we went to sleep around eleven. Three hours later Huyen woke up with stomach pains. At first she thought she ate too much but after they didn't go away we cleverly deduced that they were contractions. We downloaded a contractions application on our phones and started to time her contractions around 3:30AM. At first we thought that they must be Braxton-Hicks contractions (AKA "fake contractions") since we weren't due for another two and a half weeks and since the contractions were all over the place -- some fifteen minutes apart, others just two minutes. I told Huyen to take a warm shower and made her a smoothie to help her relax. We then started to watch a DVD the hospital had given us that we were waiting till the last minute to watch. We got about ten minutes into the video when Huyen's contractions started to become five minutes apart. Our doctor had told us that this was the time to start heading to the hospital.

Huyen had packed her hospital bag weeks earlier and it was in the trunk of our car. As we got ready to leave I asked her if she packed anything for me...she hadn't. So I quickly threw a few things together...and then a few more things -- including our backgammon board -- thinking that we'd be at the hospital for a long time. When I finished packing the bags, Huyen had her most painful contraction yet; she literally bent over in pain and had a tear coming down her face. At this point I was 100% sold that we were having our baby since Huyen is one of the toughest people I've ever met.  We quickly went down the stairs of our building and I ran to get the car. When Huyen got in I called the doctor's office and was told that the doctor would call us back. Thankfully it was 7:30AM on Sunday morning so there was no traffic at all going to the hospital. We arrived at St. Barnabas thirty minutes later and as I pulled into the lot my phone rang. It was a doctor (not our doctor or any of the ten from his practice) asking us what the situation was. I told him we were having contractions four minutes apart and he said to come to the hospital. I told him we'd be right upstairs.

After checking-in, the nurses examined Huyen and told her that she was six centimeters dilated. It was almost go time.  At this point Huyen was so nauseous and in so much pain that she couldn't speak. She went probably three hours without saying a word. Actually the only time she spoke was when I was coaching her to breath. She turned her head and looked at me and said, "DON'T BREATH IN MY FACE!" She didn't say anything else again until she had her epidural.

Once Huyen had her epidural she was in heaven. She took a little nap and I decided to watch a little football. I turned on the TV and started to watch the Ravens vs. Colts playoff game. After a few minutes the nurse came in and examined Huyen. She then asked me to hit a little red button on Huyen's bed. The intercom came on and the nurse said, "Please tell the doctor to come in. We're ready to deliver." Five minutes later, four pushes by Huyen and three snips of the scissor on the umbilical  cord by me, Shayna Phuong was born. It wasn't like how I had pictured it or how a thousand movies had depicted it. Everything was very very calm. Shayna didn't cry but just stared at us with her beautiful eyes. She was immediately placed on Huyen's chest and just like that, we had a family.

That was four weeks ago. The best four weeks of our lives.